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Can the police search my property without a warrant?

On Behalf of | Feb 20, 2024 | Criminal Defense

The police are trained to maintain law and order. Part of this involves executing arrests and securing evidence of a crime. However, if the police enter your home illegally, they cannot use any evidence they obtain thereafter to convict you. This is because the 4th Amendment protects you from unreasonable search and seizure. 

As such, the police always do their best to ensure that they do not break the law when entering and searching property. But what if they do not have a warrant? Can they still search your home?

The concept of a warrantless search

While the police generally need a valid warrant to execute a search and seizure, there are instances when they can enter, search and seize your property without a warrant. Here are three instances when this can happen:

When there is an emergency

When the police are in hot pursuit of a suspect who ends up in your home, they (the police) will enter your property to get their man/woman. In this case, the police do not have to stop the pursuit to obtain a warrant before coming for the suspect. 

When you consent to the search

Sometimes, the police might knock on your door and ask if they can enter and search your property. You do not have to comply with this request. If, however, you do, then any evidence obtained from such a search can be lawfully used in court against you. 

When evidence is in plain view

If the police notice a suspected contraband or an illegal item on your property, the law allows them to confiscate such an item for further investigation. For instance, if, at a DUI stop, the police notice a powdery substance on your car seat, they will initiate a search to determine if the substance in question is a drug. 

Yes, the police can search and seize your property under specific circumstances. If you find yourself being investigated for a crime, you need to know and explore your legal options.